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Nelson agrees to six-year contract with Islanders

Forward could have been UFA on July 1, had NHL career-high 53 points this season

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Brock Nelson agreed to a six-year contract with the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Financial terms were not released. The 27-year-old forward could have been an unrestricted free agent July 1.

As talks with the Islanders intensified after New York was swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Second Round, Nelson said he knew he wanted to stay.

"You could wait it out, but this is the only place I've ever been," said Nelson, a first-round pick by the Islanders (No. 30) at the 2010 NHL Draft. "It's a great place to live, especially now with kids. We love it here, and we're very happy to be here another six years."

Nelson had an NHL career-high 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) this season to help the Islanders finish 48-27-7, second in the Metropolitan Division, and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nelson finished with four goals in eight playoff games; two of the goals were game-winners.

But his evolution into a solid two-way center under first-year coach Barry Trotz is likely what would have made Nelson, a four-time 20-goal scorer, such a hot commodity July 1. It was the type of season the Islanders needed Nelson to have, especially after center John Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018.

Nelson's plus-20 rating was also an NHL career high.

Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Nelson buries wrister on odd-man rush

"Barry was huge," Nelson said. "Right from Day One, he stressed there could be more of an opportunity for me. He was a big reason why we had the success that we did.

"Everybody was on the same page. I can't say enough about [general manager] Lou [Lamoriello] and Barry and the success that we had this year and what's ahead."

Nelson has also been durable; he played all 82 regular-season games for the second consecutive season and third time in his NHL career. A native of Warroad, Minnesota, he has 241 points (124 goals, 117 assists) in 480 NHL games, all with the Islanders. Nelson also has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 26 playoff games.

New York still has several key players who can become unrestricted free agents July 1, including forwards Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Valtteri Filppula, as well as goalie Robin Lehner, a finalist for the Vezina and Masterton trophies.

"We're going to have to see exactly how we can fit them all in, but we'd like them back, without question," Lamoriello said on May 6. "But they have to make decisions and we have to make decisions. But they're all quality human beings, they're quality players and they've been an integral part of this organization this year. We'll do the best we can."

The Islanders are also hoping to break ground this summer on an arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, that would open in time for the 2021-22 season. They played 21 regular-season games and Games 1 and 2 of their first-round playoff series at Nassau Coliseum, their home from 1972-2015 before moving to Barclays Center, where they played 20 regular-season games and the first two games of the second round against the Hurricanes.

Nelson credited the return to the Coliseum as one of the reasons for their success, but he's looking forward to a permanent home in the near future.

"The fans are a big reason why guys love it here so much," Nelson said. "Hopefully things work out this summer and we'll have a new home real soon. We're all really excited."

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